Choreographers Sumesh Sundar and Jishnudas are over the moon. They are getting rave reviews for their work for the track ‘Parudeesa’ from Amal Neerad’s Mammootty-starrer Bheeshma Parvam. The song, composed by Sushin Shyam and sung by Sreenath Bhasi, is picturised on Soubin Shahir, Sreenath, Srindaa and Anagha. The video has clocked over 41 lakh views so far.
“Viewers have enjoyed the choreography. The appreciation is a heady feeling,” says Sumesh. Sumesh Sundar and Jishnudas started Myself and My Moves, a “dance community” in 2016, and opened a dance studio by the same name in Thrissur a year later. The studio has been teaching different Western dance styles, besides Bollywood, semi-classical and contemporary. They have also been uploading videos of their performances and of the team on their YouTube channel (Myself and My Moves). One of those dance videos caught the attention of Amal Neerad.
“The call from his office came out of the blue. We were asked to meet him in Fort Kochi. Until we did meet him in person, we could not believe it was really happening,” says Jishnudas.
Sumesh Sundar adds: “Amal ettan had seen our video of the song ‘Happy New Year’ from the Tamil film Kuruvi. Initially, he thought that we were choreographers from Tamil Nadu. Once he learned that we were based in Thrissur, he got in touch with us. We were surprised to know that he had seen all our videos. Even Soubin ikka, Bhasi and other artistes were discussing our videos.”
Amal’s brief for ‘Parudeesa’ was that since the song has the vibe of the late ‘80s, the choreography should not have too many new-age dance moves. “He needed the style that was popular during those times, such as the famous Michael Jackson moves. We have incorporated that [like Soubin’s moonwalk] and hip-hop party moves. All thanks to Sushin’s music and lyrics by Vinayak Sasikumar,” explains Sumesh Sundar.
The 20-odd dancers in the video include members and students of the dance studio. “Amal ettan’s plan was to shoot the song towards the end. But the pandemic upset the shooting schedule and so the shoot had to be done immediately. That’s why we went with our own dancers,” says Jishnudas. The song was shot at Uru Art Harbour in Fort Kochi.
They say that since Soubin, Sreenath and Anagha are good dancers the teaching process was smooth. “Amal ettan had insisted on rehearsals and it was the actors who were excited about it. Many of our actors are good dancers but they rarely get a chance to showcase that in Malayalam cinema. ‘Parudeesa’ was an opportunity for the actors in the film to rock. We gave all of them the space to perform,” Sumesh Sundar says. They have choreographed one more song in the movie, which features dancers from their studio.
Big boost for choreographers
The choreographers believe that the success of the song is a ray of hope for the dance community in Kerala. They point out that there are scores of dance troupes and brilliant choreographers in the State who are waiting for acceptance and opportunities. “There are so many beautifully choreographed works in Malayalam cinema, thanks to the richness of our film music. But the choreographers are never celebrated. It was overwhelming to see our names on the posters of the movie,” Jishnu says.
It was dance that brought them together. They used to meet at dance contests, were part of a dance crew, and had participated in reality shows, sometimes as background dancers. “We had entered the industry at a time when Western dance had no patronage in Kerala. We both loved hip-hop but wanted to learn other styles as well. However, there weren’t many opportunities in the State. Also, people pooh-poohed the idea of learning Western dance. We wanted to break that notion and that eventually led to the formation of our team. Our stress is on dance education,” says 30-year-old Sumesh Sundar, who quit his job to concentrate on dance. Jishnudas, 28, has assisted a few choreographers in films.
The initial days were difficult. There were hardly 10 or 15 students for their workshops. "We got more acceptance once we started doing videos on regional songs,” Sumesh Sundar says. Every year they hold December Dance Fest (DDF), which features workshops, talks, battles, ciphers among other sessions. The fifth edition of the event was held in December 2021.
Bheeshma Parvam releases in theatres on March 3.